by Elizabeth Cook and Jennifer Mistrot

VALLEJO (CBS SF) — The holidays are traditionally a time we spend with friends and family but Angelo Granado has found that family can also come in the form of good friendships.

And those friends can often show up for us in ways we would never expect.

On a recent weekday afternoon, Granado caught up with the coaching team he played for at his former high school, Jesse Bethel in Vallejo.

Angelo Granado

SRA scholar Angelo Granado

It was the college student’s first visit back to his high school campus since graduation. During their reunion, former head coach Jeff Turner, now the school’s athletic director, and wrestling coach John Jackson joked with Granado about his time management skills.

Turner had made sure Granado had a ride to school every day.

“(I was always) waiting to pick him up across the street,” said Turner of giving his former player Granado rides to school. “And then having to call and say, ‘Are you awake? You’ve got one minute, and I am out of here!'”

“How many times did I leave you?” Turner asked.

“Three times!” Granado answered.

But the truth is Turner and Jackson and their care, compassion and patience have never left Granado.

“He just kept coming back,” said Jackson of Granado’s determination. “Usually when a kid is trying to wrestle, you do not learn it overnight. You would get frustrated, because you might not be feeling that you can get it. But Angelo kept coming every day. He kept asking questions. I said ‘Okay, I think this guy…he’s got it! We are going to keep pushing him.'”

Jackson pushed Granado to keep his wrestling weight class as the young athlete made varsity and team captain.

“Angelo probably went all the way up from 170 pounds to 220. He was a light 220. He wasn’t a heavy 220,” explained Jackson. “And I give him a lot of respect for wrestling at that weight because a lot of those dudes were really bigger than him.”

Both men know Granado’s story. His parents split up when he was just 10 months old. His mother struggled to raise her children.

Money was tight, and Granado did his best to help out with the family’s finances

“I wouldn’t run the heater at night time,” said Granado of trying to save money. “And (I would} go to sleep very cold, and wake up even more cold.”

Getting ready for school was tough. Granado would run his hands under warm water to warm up.

“When you put a really cold hand under warm water, it burns, like it hurts more than it should,” Granado said. “I remember doing that every morning during the winter at least, putting my hands under warm water…and it’s just this feeling. I would never want to feel that again.”

That determined spirit pushed Granado towards success, first through high school, then onto college. And now he plans on getting married next year after graduation. He revealed the exciting news to those he considers family, Turner and Jackson.

“Coach Turner I see him kind of like a dad in a way,” said Granado. “Coach John, like a cousin or a brother.”

It’s a connection both coaches can relate to with Jackson saying: “I saw a lot of myself (in Granado), a similar situation to what my coaches did for me when I was in high school.”

Granado also plans on enlisting in the military after college graduation, where he hopes to become a nurse. And of course he says both of his former coaches will be wedding guests when he gets married.

Students Rising Above is able to serve so many amazing scholars like Angelo Granado through donations. If you would like to consider donating to SRA, be sure to join Students Rising Above this GivingTuesday, November 30th for their 1-Day only #GivingTuesday Fundraising Campaign.

The Students Rising Above Giving Tuesday initiative is critical to support students in continuing to pursue their education. During 2020, SRA students were tested more than ever, and in 2021 they have shown true resilience and strength in preserving and continuing their education. With the global generosity of GivingTuesday, SRA can continue to support students to and through college and into the workforce. Save the date for Tuesday the 30th and to get involved and learn more, visit www.studentsrisingabove.org and follow on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram at @studentsrisingabove.